Home Improvement

How to Stop Floorboards From Creaking

Creaking floorboards may not seem like a big problem at first, but the more you ignore them, the louder the noise will get overtime. This holds especially true if they’re located in a high traffic area. Usually, you’d hear your floorboards crackle if you live in an old house, but new homes are not immune to this problem either.

So, if you:

  • Live in a very old home and the creaking from your floorboards is now strong enough to wake up your family members.
  • Have tried to remedy the problem by adding extra screws into the joists, but it doesn’t help.
  • Wonder if there’s a product of some kind to put between the boards

Then read along and learn how to stop floorboards from creaking.

What causes squeaky floorboards?

First of all, let’s talk about why floorboards start to squeak in the first place.

  • Problematic joists – these are the large wooden beams located underneath your subfloor that hold the suspended floorboards. They run perpendicular to the boards and are secured with nails. When there is space between the joist and the subfloor, you hear noise every time you walk over that particular area.
  • Wrong type of nails – if the wrong type of nails have been used for securing the floorboards to the joists, or the securing job was done poorly, then you’d also hear a creaking sound when you walk over that area.

How to work out what is causing your creaking floorboards

Now when you know the possible reasons, it’s time to pinpoint the exact location of the noise. Have a family member or a friend step on the floor while you listen and look closely. Try also to detect the spot where the noise is coming from and look at the boards. When you see slight movements, that’s likely the culprit.

You need to gain access to the area where the problem is located. That may be a crawlspace or basement. If that isn’t possible, you’d have to lift the boards to fix the issue.

How to stop floorboards from creaking

Hopefully, you figured out what’s causing the noise and have access to the problematic area. Now let’s look at each problem individually and discuss how to resolve it: 

  • Wrong kind of nails – incorrect nails are not long and strong enough to hold the boards in place, resulting in slight movements when you step on them. The solution here is simple. You need to replace the current nails with newer ones that are the right size and length. It’s even better if you use screws instead of nails – they will not slip out.
  • Bad fitting of nails –  the nails might be the right length, but it’s quite possible that the flooring has not been nailed correctly to the joists. The nails could be too far apart, or slipped out of the joist they were supposed to penetrate. In this case, you will need to remove the problematic nails and replace them with screws. Don’t just add more nails in hopes one of them will turn out good.
  • Space between the joints and floorboards – even a small gap between the underside of the floorboard and the top of the joist can result in squeaking noises. If you have access to the top of the joist, cover it with some carpenter’s glue and insert a thin wood shim to fill the gap. The wood shim should be the exact right size and fit snuggly, otherwise, it will raise the floorboard, resulting in damage and yet another problem.
  • Long gaps – the space between the joints and floorboard may be larger than that which one shim can cover. In that case, you shouldn’t place a whole row of shims just to cover the entire area. Instead, obtain a caulking gun and load it with a fast-set construction adhesive. Fill all the gaps, voids and cracks with it. Once the adhesive hardens, there will be no movement of the boards and thus, no noise.
  • Floorboards are not acclimatised – if the boards have not adapted to the room temperature and moisture levels, they will expand or contract after installation. This in turn will create gaps between each board and noise after being stepped on. There is no way around this, you need to replace all the boards to fix your laminate floor.
  • Too much moisture – even if the floorboards have been acclimated properly, they will still warp if there is excessive moisture in the room. Any leaks, no matter how small, need to be taken care of before you replace the floorboards.
  • Bad subfloor or underlay installation – if the subfloor has been fitted incorrectly, it will become uneven and small gaps between it and the floorboards will form. This can also happen if your room is too humid. Your option is to find a small hole between the boards that’s also right above the depression and fill it with epoxy. Otherwise, you’d have to lift up the boards, fix the depression, and place new ones afterwards.

If you can’t gain access to the space underneath the floorboards, you have one final option to try. Apply a dry lubricant to the noisy area. It will reduce the wood on wood friction between the boards. There are several types of lubricants that you can try, such as lock lubricant, powdered graphite, or talcum powder. Whichever you choose, you always need to apply it in the same manner. Apply a small amount of the product in between the boards, and walk around them, so the product can penetrate the space  between the cracks. Afterwards, clean any excess, so you won’t step on it.

Fantastic Services offers more flooring services. Check out our dedicated page!

Hire a professional

If you can’t seem to find the reason for your creaking floorboards, do not hammer random nails into the floor hoping to fix the problem. Instead, hire professional floor repairs. Fantastic Services works with experienced and fully-equipped tradesmen. They will carefully lift any loose boards and secure them. Also, they will refit the old ones or replace them entirely if needed. If the technicians find any dangerous nails, they will remove them.

Call us today!

Image source: Shutterstock / REDPIXEL.PL

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Did you manage to locate and remove the source of the noise? How did it go? Let us know by commenting!

Takeaways

  • Walk on your floorboards and listen carefully to locate where the sound is coming from.
  • Find access to the problematic area to inspect and fix it more easily. If that isn’t possible, you’d have to lift the boards.
  • If all else fails, try to add a lubricant in between the boards.
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